Coronavirus – the pandemic is making headlines all over the world. The repercussions of this on the businesses and the world economy are proving to be of significant concern. Governments around the globe are establishing measures to prevent the spread of the virus while also taking the required actions to protect the businesses.

In addition to complying with the government’s guidelines and precautionary measures, businesses are also establishing internal frameworks that will ensure the safety of their employees and the continuity of their business.

Here are some things that you can keep in mind while creating a framework for your company.

A clause that is here to help

Every business deal is sealed by a legal contract. There are certain clauses that come into play when these deals are stuck due to an unforeseen event like the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID19). If you have business deals hanging mid-way with no immediate resolution, you can invoke these clauses to get out of the situation –

Force Majeure – The clause is placed in a contract to deal with such unanticipated events that prevent a party to the contract from fulfilling its obligation. But the important question here is – Is it applicable to the current situation? Legal experts said that the COVID-19 outbreak qualifies as a force majeure event but the invoking company needs to show that it is effectively impossible to perform their contractual duties as a result of the outbreak. They simply won’t be excused from the obligation just because it has become more costly or time-consuming.

“As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak that (originated in China), the Chinese government has issued over 1600 ‘Force Majeure’ certificates purporting to excuse businesses for non-compliance with their contractual obligation.”

How helpful is your insurance amidst the coronavirus outbreak?

People these days are really passionate about traveling be it for personal reasons or for specific business purposes. But the coronavirus spread to almost 100 countries in a matter of months has raised concerns, causing a lot of people to rethink their travel plans. If you have a trip planned and are wondering whether your travel insurance will cover coronavirus related issues, here is what you need to know –

Generally, your travel insurance will either not cover or will provide only limited benefits for problems related to coronavirus. This is because the travel insurance companies have declared the virus a ‘foreseen event’. The companies have released a cut-off date beyond which, no coverage will be given for any loss due to the virus. Here is a list of a few travel insurance companies with their cut-off date’s declaring coronavirus as a foreseeable problem –

  • AIG Travel Guard – Jan. 24, 2020
  • Allianz Global Assistance – Jan. 22, 2020
  • AXA Assistance USA – Cut-off dates vary by region. For mainland China – Jan. 27, 2020. For Italy – March 4, 2020.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection – Jan. 21, 2020
  • Travelex – Jan. 21, 2020

So, only if you have purchased a travel insurance policy before the companies’ cut-off date can you get coverage for coronavirus.

While travel insurance companies are tackling problems their way, health insurance companies in the US are covering the cost of the treatment for virus affected patients. Even in several other countries coronavirus treatment coverage is being provided with some specific conditions such as the patient has been admitted to the hospital for a minimum of 24 hours.

The concerns of business safety will always be secondary to human health but it surely can’t be ignored. There are cases of worksites and factories being contaminated due to the virus outbreak which is causing interruptions in the business process. The business interruption coverage will kick in (provided there is a direct physical loss) due to shut down that affects the operations of the primary insured and will cover for losses which can help sustain the business in the long run.

Make sure your pillars are intact

The employees are the pillars of your company and their safety is of utmost importance. Companies are reviewing their strategies and policies to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for its employees.

Policies that give employees confidence – With the virus rapidly spreading, there is a likelihood of an increasing number of employees being unable to work either because they are sick or they must care for others. This calls for companies to revise their paid time off and sick leave policies to ensure that the employees are not penalized. Such policy changes instill confidence amongst employees and encourages self-reporting and reduce potential exposure.

Encourage remote working practices – Coronavirus is putting remote work to a gigantic test and at an unprecedented scale. Amidst the pandemic outbreak, it is advised and encouraged to avoid human contact, especially if you are showing symptoms of the virus. Companies are advised to conduct meetings and conferences through a video call to avoid direct face to face interaction.

Many companies are advising their employees to have a basic set-up ready to enable work from home whenever possible. But WFH can increase the risk of cyber attack due to insecurity of network connection. So companies are advised to lay down some security guidelines to prevent any mishap –

  • Have an established WFH policy – This should include an outline of what each user must do to secure the remote workplace.
  • Equip employees with the right tool – Built-in encryption like FileVault (Apple) and Bitlocker (Microsoft), to ensure encryption of data that is stored and in transit.
  • Mandate the use of VPN – VPN will ensure that the network traffic is encrypted even in public networks like coffee shops.

Establishing policy and giving your employees the best of tools isn’t just enough. Explaining and training them on the best practices will further the purpose of the established policies and ensure optimal use of the tools.

Keeping the employees informed – Rumors and fears spread as fast as the coronavirus causing panic among employees. It feels like there is a lot of information about the virus that is making rounds. So it can seem difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. Here are some verified sources which will keep you updated about the outbreak –

Diligent planning is a step in the right direction but the criticality lies in the execution of these plans. With COVID-19 being declared a pandemic by WHO it has become extremely important for people everywhere to take precautionary steps to stay safe and healthy. Keep yourself updated with news around the outbreak and do not panic.

We at RevvSales are taking necessary precautions to deal with the outbreak. Hope you are too!

Disclaimer: The information shared in the blog is to help you guide through the temporary transition amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, it is not legal advice. We recommend you to consult your legal counsel and other relevant authorities to establish policies and manage affected contracts of the company.

Diksha Singh
Posted by:Diksha Singh

Analyst turned legal writer @ Revvsales. Books are bae and for everything else there is Coldplay.

One thought on “Safeguard Your Business from Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  1. There are many facets of legal protection for businesses in Covid-19 crisis. At the most basic level, contracts need to be reviewed. Renegotiating the terms of contractual agreement, and considering the impact of unforeseen events on engagement, termination, defaults and other factors need to be considered. Businesses will also need to identify resources they need to meet on-going direct and indirect tax compliance requirements.

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